Public rallies to fund the San José police
A San Jose teacher asked city leaders at Tuesday’s city council meeting whether Police Chief Eddie Garcia thought it was okay for teachers to use rubber bullets at students throwing bullets. bottled water in class after top city law enforcement officials justified the use of force by officers in recent protests.
Following a presentation on the use of force by police, the comment was one of many calls on San José police for using tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray against protesters .
More than a dozen speakers condemned city leaders’ refusal to fund the San Jose Police Department after police officials defended their use of force during the Black Lives Matter protests in San Jose after the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Speakers’ views on police funding ranged from reallocating current police funding to other programs to the complete abolition of the department.
Mayor Sam Liccardo publicly opposed police funding ahead of the meeting, but called for a review of the use of force by police in San José.
Garcia seemed to be on the same page, welcoming a criticism.
Garcia proposed new crowd control tactics and restrictions on the use of force by officers to allow rubber bullets to be fired only if a person poses a threat or attacks police or others. Garcia also banned knee-to-neck suffocation, pledged to launch broad community outreach to review departmental policies, and supported a ban on hiring officers fired for gross misconduct in others. police services.
“We pride ourselves on being transparent,” Garcia said. “We wish to discuss the events of the past week. Our heads are not in the sand. We understand that the community is frustrated with what has happened.
The police chief praised the majority of his officers’ performance during the protests, but said there were some incidents he was not happy with.
Special Operations Commander Captain Jason Dwyer said less than lethal weapons were used against protesters to prevent widespread arson, assaults and vandalism. However, he said that in recent history, the San José police had not used these methods to control crowds.
“Basically our threshold for the deployment of these weapons was a violent mob of several hundred people who attacked the officers both melee and throwing dangerous objects,” Dwyer said. Items thrown in included plastic bottles, glass bottles, pieces of asphalt and metal rebar, he said.
The special operations commander said the use of chemicals was the first option because it was “purely irritating” and other weapons would cause “blunt trauma”.
During the May 29 protest, police used 31 OC explosive grenades – devices that spray pepper spray when they explode – and 400 rounds of foam against protesters, Dwyer said.
Police used up to 32 tear gas canisters throughout the protests, he said.
Speakers rallied against police chiefs and city council on Tuesday after Dwyer said throwing “full plastic water bottles” amounted to “assault with lethal weapons.”
“I think it is despicable to hear these officers talk about fearing for their lives in the face of stones and soda bottles,” said Richard Gutierrez.
Several people at the protest said they were injured by police and called for a ban on rubber bullets. Police said they instigated the violence.
“Someone threw an empty water bottle at the cops, and in response they sent projectiles and tear gas and me and my friends had to run down the stairwells in the parking lot,” Areej said. Hasan, an Eastside teacher who was at a protest. “As we were walking to our car on our way home, the rubber bullet guns were pointed at us and the cops insulted us. “
The teacher said the police made the situation worse.
“It is ridiculous to say that they are in a riot when they themselves start the riot,” Hasan said.
Speakers extended their criticism beyond the protests.
“It wasn’t just about the protest. My concern is that it is emblematic of a deeper cultural issue and a holistic perspective within the police service on the use of force and bias in general, ”said Aaron Zisser, the former independent auditor. from the San Jose Police Department. “I think there needs to be a review of the culture and leadership within the police service.”
Despite Liccardo’s pledge to reform the police, protesters urged him to fund the department and funnel the dollars to other resources.
“Our young people are demanding that you fund the police …” said Jesse Springer, education specialist at Eastside. “We’re the adults here, it’s the kids asking us to do it, so let’s stand up and assume our adulthood here.”
Liccardo said he listened to protesters with a “different ear” than last week and apologized to those who said they were injured by police.
Although one person opposed police funding, arguing that businesses need their support, a local business owner said there is deep mistrust of the police within her. downtown community.
“My personal experience with law enforcement in San José and around the bay led me to think that I would never call the police under any circumstances; every interaction I have had with a policeman as an adult has left me scared, humiliated, confused and often all three, ”said Cristina Muñoz, owner of a local business.
The mayor said the discussion would continue on Friday.
Contact Mauricio La Plante at [email protected] or follow @mslaplantenews on Twitter.